Report on EU customs activities in 2007 issued

European Union
This report is based on data provided by the EU member states, which, in accordance with EU Regulation 1891/2004 (laying down provisions for the implementation of the EU Customs Regulation (1383/2003)), are obliged to inform the commission of all seizures carried out by their customs services on a quarterly basis.
According to the commission, the 2007 figures show that the phenomenon of counterfeiting and piracy is still a growing problem, both in economic terms and in terms of the health and safety of EU citizens. The report also shows that the number of seizures of counterfeit goods significantly increased (by 17%) in 2007 compared to the previous year. This is partly due to the increase in the number of applications filed by IP rights owners. Such increase suggests a greater cooperation between IP rights owners and customs authorities, thereby enabling the latter to target shipments suspected of containing counterfeit goods.
Despite this increase in the number of counterfeit goods seized by customs, the overall amount of articles seized decreased from 128 million in 2006 to 78 million in 2007. This result is partly due to the fact that smaller quantities of counterfeit cigarettes, CDs, DVDs and cassettes have been seized. An increasing number of shipments involved smaller quantities of counterfeit and pirated articles. This phenomenon is due to: 
  • an increase in online sales of these types of products; and
  • the fact that counterfeiters are willing to take fewer risks.
According to the report, "cigarettes and clothing still remain the main sectors for large seizures of counterfeit goods" (34% and 22% respectively).
In addition, the report highlights the increasing focus on the control of goods that are potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers. In 2007 there was a significant increase (compared to 2006) in the amount of articles seized in the following sectors: 
  • cosmetics and personal care products (with an increase of 264%);
  • toys (98%);
  • foodstuff (62%);
  • computer equipment (62%); and
  • medicines (51%).
The most counterfeited medicines are those for erectile dysfunction. Other common counterfeit medicines include those used to reduce cholesterol and to treat osteoporosis and hypertension. The commission's priority objective in 2007 was to make headway in this area.
According to the report, China remains the main source of counterfeit goods, with 60% of all goods seized originating from this country. However, other countries were found to be the main source of counterfeit goods in certain sectors:
  • Turkey for foodstuff and beverages;
  • Georgia and Turkey for cosmetics and personal care products; and
  • Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates for medicines.
Another strategy increasingly being used by counterfeiters is to use third countries as transit stops in order to hide the origin of the goods. According to research carried out by the commission, this strategy is frequently used to import goods from India, which usually transit through the United Arab Emirates or Tunisia before entering the EU territory.
Marta Roig, Grau & Angulo, Barcelona

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